|Unintentional head tilt. Adorable nonetheless.|
These two women, Amelia Pacheco and Rachael Edson, are full time public high school educators (Amy, Special ED. Rachael, Art) in Southern CA. In response to the common struggles of keeping students engaged, today's stifling state standards and a lack of camaraderie in sharing successful lesson plans amongst educators, these ladies decided to be proactive in addressing these issues.
The Global Creative is a young organization, run by Amy and Rachael on nights and weekends. I certainly believe that visionary is a word I would use to describe what they're doing, because they are responding to something much larger than them. They are intelligent, creative and brave enough to try to ameliorate problems that could very easily be (and are) passed off as simply out-of-their-hands. The whole teacher/nonprofit organization thing is not exactly lucrative easy street. This is a labor of love. This is truly great work.
Some key points to understand what they are doing today:
+Their website stands as an online source for any teacher to access free lesson plans that engage students in something creative while drawing in ethical and globally minded topics as well as suit the state standards.
+Hosting monthly craft workshops in donated space around Long Beach, bringing community together to learn something and raise awareness about the organization.
+Collaborating with other local organizations/companies (namely Yellow 108 and Aosa Project) to support other people and causes they believe in.
Read their full mission statement.
We are excited to share some photos of their workshops and great highlights from our conversation about what they do now and what they will do in the future.
On why they started The Global Creative:
Rachael: We both were trying to write interesting lesson plans and saw what was working with our students. We both have different challenges with our types of students. Teaching English to people with special needs is a challenge to get them to care in the same way trying to teach art history to a kid who just wants to get their hands dirty is a challenge. So how do you get them engaged in the mundane aspects of education? They love the getting-your-hands-dirty type of stuff, but getting them to care about why it’s important is the challenge.
Amy: We felt like there is a huge need for teachers to have readymade lesson plans that are actually interesting for students, and really connects students to their education. Because if there’s no interest in what’s going on, they’ll just never see why it’s important. Then we started developing more interest in instilling ethics into our lesson plans, and more of a global-mindedness.
R: Yes and another big thing was the reluctance of teachers to share the cool stuff they would come up with. And this is not true across the board, but a lot of teachers feel like their really-cool-show-stopping lesson they do every year is their intellectual property.
We wanted to create lessons that worked regardless of whatever educational problem- the parent problem, the state problem, any problem.
R: Address the morality, the ethics and the soft skills that are required after school; teaching them little mini lessons within great lessons about how to be a good person.
|Basket weaving workshop.|
An example of a lesson they tried:
A: One of our lessons was on Invisible Children (humanitarian organization focusing on the LRA crisis in East and Central Africa), where we start a lesson off by listing things you can’t live without....It’s shocking how many kids put cell phone, xbox...
R: They put things. They have such an attachment to what they have
A: Things that are not parent-engaging, family things... it’s so easy to think that your cell phone is something you can’t live without if you don’t have someone telling you that your perspective is off point. So then we show them the Invisible Children films and talk about.
R: We talk about the students and the conditions they’re living in and how hopeful they are to even have an education and how they’re crying about it.
A: So then we ask them the same question afterwards- what can you not live without? And they feel stupid for saying- my cellphone. They kind of realize that there is something else going on in the world. So what they you do about it? One of the things is they have to write a letter. And then we have them writing.
So anyways we are trying to do that with a lot of other issues. With Environmental Issues, Green Issues with really anything that actually affects their world.
R: Or their decision making. I think a big thing is the choices they have; like using plastic bags or reusable water bottles.
On why they decided to bring workshops to their community:
R: I think we needed it to legitimize our program. We don’t have time to do outreach. We’ll get there. That is one of ours goals for this year is making sure people know our website exists. I thought the workshops would be a good way to bring our program to the community, getting our name out there and having some fun with adults rather than just being stuck in the classroom setting.
A: In our lesson plans, there is always a creative component, a widening global perspective and then of course the state standards. So there are three components. It has to have something to do with ethics. It has to have something to do with standards and it has to have something to do with creativity. Actually there are four because it has to have to do with widening the global perspective. So, we could just take out the state standards and then it’s relevant for anyone. The biggest things in all the situations are that the adults have really been responsive to creating art and wanting to learn how to do something without even knowing there is a cultural component. So when we do basket weaving, they don’t really realize that it’s a craft native to California.
R: Or that it’s something that is so human. This is something fun that we’re doing on a Wednesday night, but you could take a snapshot of this exact place 200 years ago and someone might be sitting here doing the same things but just out of necessity. I always talk to my kids about that. It’s fun and it’s great that we get to do it in school, but what if this was something you were doing because you needed something to collect vegetables?
A: It is really crazy to think that when you’re making baskets with people, that that they sell such beautiful baskets in Mexico for $30. When you’re sitting around crafting with others, you think about that more. There are so many different avenues where it’s good for everyone.
On the future of TGC and inspiration they glean from others...
On Yellow 108, a company that has committed to giving TGC a portion of their profits, in addition to donating space, ideas, moral support, love, etc.
A: Yellow is such a good company on so many levels: their cultural vision as far as diversity, wanting to make sure people are healthy around the world and using materials from around the world in an ethical way. So the ethical component is there. The cultural component is there. And they are so supportive of being creative. Lauren (co-founder/owner) being an artist herself with photography and being so design minded is such a good fit with our non-profit. And she’s super supportive and innovative herself. She comes up with ideas that are great and we’re like- let's do it!
R: She’s on it. That’s her 24/7. She's always thinking. She’s always dedicated to her company. She’s always thinking of ways to help her friends or help the people that she believes in. . . It’s a real mission statement that you can really get behind. So many companies have these bogus cheesy mission statements that one dude wrote, no one ever looks at and no one really lives by. But she is so true to her mission. It’s on the forefront of her thought processes.
The future of TGC:
A: We’ve kind of talked about a lot of things. One is definitely to have a big workshop space where we actually have a base to have our program. We would just be having art classes all day. We would have a shop there with cool things made by other people, have artists work there, but really to have a space.
R: A little campus. We’ll have the website. We’ll still develop curriculum, but have a campus where all of it can happen.
A: We visited this program in LA called Inner City Arts. In all of LA County, their schools are bussed in to do all of their art classes. And without them, I don’t think that they would have an art program in a lot of these schools. I don’t know that we would be doing the exact same thing but something similar. As art programs dwindle in the school system, we want a place where you can still come to art classes for free as a student.
R: Or developing a curriculum that is state approved that could be bought by districts and they could just train someone to come in and do that.
A: Yeah so if we had a campus and had a class on basket weaving, we would want to create a curriculum for our class but that also the kids can learn about in school before they even come-studying California native plants or ecology. We would create the curriculum online for the schools and then the kids or whatever students can come.
R: But also it’s not just art. It’s any talent the kid has where they are producing something, whether it’s music, a poem, some kind of writing component or some kind of campaign for the school- whatever is creative where they can come up with their own idea.
A: Because then they love it and it’s an expression.
It would be cool if our non-profit was at a point where we could say -ok we can hire those fresh teachers in the existing program and pay them extra for doing lesson plans online. We could hire them from anywhere in the world; to keep the program going and to be supportive of their ideas. We wish someone was supportive of ours.
R: I was thinking about it the other day. There are no promotions when you are a teacher. A lot of times people have something that they are working towards and theres a way to grow. You really have to be so self-motivated to grow as a teacher. It’s so easy to just do the same thing over and over because there is nothing that requires you to do anything more. No one checks what you’re doing. They just check the test scores. So it’s fun to have something where you feel like you can really make it grow grow grow, with an unlimited amount of potential.